BLACKSBURG, Va. — Another trip to Virginia for an NCAA regional, another ticket punched to a super regional.
Oklahoma rallied, then pulled away from host Virginia Tech on a muggy Sunday night for a 10-4 win that was in doubt until a cathartic final inning.
The Sooners (43-19) will travel to LSU for a best-of-3 super regional with a berth to the College World Series on the line.
It took an impressive throw from center fielder Max White, a dozen singles, a hit-and-run double, a pair of sacrifice bunts that went for run-scoring hits — and an observance of superstition — to lead Oklahoma to victory.
But before the Sooners' narrative gets too far ahead, it is important to know how they came from behind.
Virginia Tech converted the momentum of defeating Connecticut earlier in the day into a 2-0 lead through five innings against the Sooners. Along the way, Hokies starter Eddie Campbell was dominant, facing one batter over the minimum.
That came to a jolting halt in the sixth, when the Campbell's fastball faded and the Sooners began sitting on his curve. Oklahoma cobbled together five singles, a hit batsman and a fielder's choice to turn the two-run deficit into a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, White delivered the play that would launch Oklahoma on the path to victory. With runners on second and third and two outs, Hokie batter Chad Morgan sent a line drive single to center seemingly deep enough to drive in both runners and tie the score.
But White charged the ball and came up firing to nail Andrew Rash at the plate and Oklahoma escaped with a 4-3 lead.
“I don't get real high or real low,” Sooners coach Sunny Golloway said. “But I was fired up. I thought I was going to have to run out to center field because Max wouldn't come off the field fast enough to get with him.”
That score held up until the ninth when the Sooners let loose a six-run barrage powered by RBI bunt singles from Craig Aikin and Jack Mayfield and a two-run double by Hector Lorenzana.
After getting the final out, the Sooners dogpiled in front of the pitcher's mound and celebrated a second regional victory within the Virginia border. The Sooners came through the Charlottesville regional to advance in 2012. To conjure more kharma, Oklahoma hired the same bus driver from a year ago and 2010, when they defeated Virginia to advance to the College World Series.
“We played at Virginia and now Virginia Tech and we have found success in this state and we actually have had the same bus driver that we had (here) the last two times,” White said. “Bernard.”
Virginia Tech committed four errors and had runners thrown out at home twice to end innings.
“If you don't play clean baseball, you're not going to win the game,” Virginia Tech coach Pete Hughes said. “So credit Oklahoma for playing clean baseball.”
Oklahoma advanced to its third super regional in four seasons with a senior class that owns a school record-tying 176 victories.